If there’s any certainty in the Los Angeles producer/rapper’s career, it’s that Evidence embodies substance. Being a mainstay in the “true school underground” scene — both solo and as part of the beloved Dilated Peoples crew — for the majority of his years in music, Ev’s releases, collaborations and lyrical focus breathe the realism that is so necessary in the culture.
With his first release in four years — following 2007’s The Weatherman –the Left Coast rhymesayer’s Cats & Dogs album further elevates his authority as an OG in the game. With production coming from the likes of The Alchemist, DJ Premier and fellow Dilated Peoples member DJ Babu, and a guest posse boasting Raekwon, Rass Kass and Prodigy, counter-arguments are few and far between — not to mention invalid.
Catching up with Evidence, subsequent to the release of Cats & Dogs, the producer/emcee talks working with fellow legendary producers, how he thinks his album weighs up against recent competition, the “death” of hip-hop, plus more.
BallerStatus.com: What’s good, Evidence? Congratulations on the release of Cats & Dogs. What responses are you hearing from the album?
Evidence: Mostly good feedback! I have not been reading all the reviews, but on Twitter and in person, feedback has been nice.
BallerStatus.com: Can you enlighten us on the concept behind the title?
Evidence: Heavy rain. An evolution from The Weatherman LP. Not a sequel, though. It’s a British term for heavy weather.
BallerStatus.com: As a producer yourself, what is it like having legendary beat makers like Premo and The Alchemist on this new record? Any favorite beats in particular?
Evidence: “Red Carpet”, “Crash”, “Late For The Sky”, “You”… I like them all! Working with ALC and Preem is a dream come true. The fact they are my friends is even doper to me. They are the best of the best, especially Premier.
BallerStatus.com: And in terms of features — who were you most hyped to rap alongside with?
Evidence: Raekwon probably. We were in the same room, it was a bucket list moment.
BallerStatus.com: Obviously you’ll be aware of the madness that September 27th brought with the release of many hugely anticipated albums. You even had a guest spot on Phonte’s Charity Starts At Home LP (on “The Life of Kings”). But how do you feel Cats & Dogs weighed up against the competition that day?
Evidence: I think I stand out if nothing else. I had a heavy scratch-oriented record. I did push myself lyrically and I wasn’t afraid to talk about issues that are not the most glamorous. I feel I had the least safe album of that particular day. That is how I weigh. As far as sales, Phonte and I were off by 300 copies in the U.S. That is amazing.
BallerStatus.com: As a hip-hop vet, is it hard to stay motivated in your career? Are there any artists or producers out there now that inspire you and make you want to raise your game?
Evidence: Yes, but it’s the same faces … Alchemist, Babu, Rakaa, RSE [Rhymesayers Entertainment], Fashawn and the list goes on.
BallerStatus.com: Not many people may know that you did graffiti before being pursuing music. As someone who’s been involved with many aspects of hip-hop culture, what are your thoughts when people say, “Hip Hop is dead?”
Evidence: Nas was very smart for that title. We are still talking about it. My next album is going to be called White People Created Black Music (laughs).
BallerStatus.com: Now, the last we heard from Dilated Peoples was The Release Party album back in 2007. A lot of people are wanting to hear new music from you guys! Can we expect a new project from the group?
Evidence: Directors Of Photography is the title, locking the deal in now. Excited about it.
BallerStatus.com: The UK, especially, has shown love to Dilated Peoples in the past, having helped “This Way” and “Worst Comes To Worst” singles reach the Top 40 charts. Are you planning on playing any shows out there any time soon — either solo or as part of Dilated Peoples?
Evidence: YES! The show is already sold out! Check Rhymesayers.com/Evidence for all dates in surrounding areas! This November!
BallerStatus.com: The Alchemist and yourself have formed a collaboration dubbed StepBrothers. I’m guessing the name shows how tight you and ALC are?
Evidence: Something like that. Al is a great friend, but he better not play my drum kit!
BallerStatus.com: There’s talk of you putting out a joint album in the future? Can you share any information on this right now?
Evidence: No, but we are cooking as I type. Say hello AL! … “Hello”.
BallerStatus.com: Once the day comes for retirement, what legacy would you want to want leave behind?
Evidence: I was passionate about my work, but enjoyed life doing it.
BallerStatus.com: And finally, any last word for the fans who have bought the Cats & Dogs LP?
Evidence: You are overly appreciated. Lots of new music soon. Touring and the vocal booth are a mainstay for me right now. Hope to see you soon.